As of 2021, there are around 19 million American veterans. 
Data shows that the nation supports and appreciates American veterans. In 2019, 72% of U.S. adults said that if they were in charge of the federal budget, they would increase spending for veterans’ benefits and services. This was the highest share of all 13 programs, being tied with education (also 72%). 
The population wants to support veterans. That much is clear. However, many don’t know how to show that they care.
Veterans experience higher levels of mental health issues than the general population. This is something that needs to be addressed.
Veterans Make Many Sacrifices, Affecting All Aspects of Their Lives
Before we dive into what you can do to show veterans you care, it’s important to discuss what many veterans give up to serve.
When thinking of military personnel, you likely think about the sacrifices they make while actively serving. Men and women spend months, sometimes years, away from their loved ones. They miss out on birthdays, the birth of their children, the passing of loved ones, and everyday memories.
These individuals witness violence and death, and, sadly, some don’t return home. Those who do often return as different people. War can change people, and these changes can have lasting effects.
For example, many individuals who serve give up the opportunity to build a career outside of the military. This can lead to immense stress for years to come. Data shows that military families often feel a lack of financial security, which can contribute to ongoing stress.
The 2018 “Military Family Lifestyle Survey” found:
- Financial stress connected to military services is reported more than any other military-family issue.
- Among active-duty families that plan to leave the service within two years, over half have less than $5,000 in emergency savings. Military spouse employment is an ongoing issue because of frequent relocation.
- 47% of veterans say transitioning to civilian life was “difficult” or “very difficult” — and the same percentage said they lacked a purpose once they left military service.
It was also reported that of the over 6,000 active-duty service members, veterans, and family members surveyed, only 18% believe the public truly understands the sacrifices they make. 
Ongoing Mental Health Issues Among Veterans
Mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, affect veterans at a higher rate than the general public. Research shows that approximately 14% to 16% of U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have depression or PTSD. Substance abuse and interpersonal violence are also key areas of concern.  Other estimates state that over 30% of vets live with emotional and mental health problems. .
Unfortunately, many veterans do not receive any treatment following a diagnosis of depression, PTSD, or depression. There are also concerns surrounding inadequate access to quality mental health care. 
How to Truly Show Veterans You Care About the Sacrifices They Make
As discussed above, veterans often make immense sacrifices to protect their countries. Some don’t make it home, and those who do are not always the same people they were when they left.
This can have devastating effects on their families, friends, and communities as a whole.
In an article on Military.com, a veteran shared how most people say “thank you for your service” — particularly on Veterans Day. He then expressed that he doesn’t generally feel honored, but more so annoyed.
Because these quick expressions of gratitude often come across as empty gestures. 
This particular veteran isn’t the only one that feels this way, either.
It’s clear that saying “thank you for your service” is not helping veterans. Veterans would prefer that the public become informed so that they can better understand what they have experienced during and after their active-duty service. 
If you want to honor veterans and show you care, here are three ways to do so.
Giving others your time is a great way to show those who fought for the United States that you care.
There are many foundations and organizations throughout the nation that actively seek volunteers, including Homes for Our Troops, Operation Gratitude, and VA Voluntary Service. However, you can start by asking how you can help within your local community. There may be veterans in your area that need support but are not receiving it.
You could run errands, provide transportation, or offer your skills to help veterans find jobs. Hire Heroes USA has several volunteer roles that can be completed from the comfort of your home. Choose from a list of potential tasks when you apply.
You can also volunteer your time to support organizations or policymakers fighting for veterans’ rights. This could lead to veterans gaining access to the services they need most.
There are dozens of charities out there dedicated to veterans.
Some organizations make donating items easier than ever before. From household goods to clothing, small appliances to electronics, companies like Pickup Please support American veterans and their families.
There are also several programs designed to ensure veterans are properly fed. For example, since 2009, Feed Out Vets has distributed 2.3+ million pounds of food to vets for free. These programs support the more than 130,000 homeless veterans, as well as the nearly four million veterans and their families that do not have enough food during the year.
Another idea is to donate an unwanted car, RV, or other vehicles to Vehicles for Veterans.
3. Help Those in Need
Since mental health issues are a significant concern among the veteran population, it’s important to recognize what the most common mental health disorders are and how you can help. In order to be a part of the solution, you need to first understand the problem. Learning the current state of veteran mental health will help you become more prepared to get involved.
One way to give back is to spend time with the vets in your life or the vets in your community. Addiction and mental illness can be isolating and lonely. Sometimes, people just need someone to care. That someone could be you.
By taking this step, a veteran struggling with their mental health may be willing to open up to you and, eventually, seek the treatment they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Making the choice to ask for help is not an easy one, but you could be the reason why someone gets the help they deserve.
If you are a loved one of a veteran who is seeking treatment, it’s important to be there for them, or even become part of the process. In some cases, family therapy may be beneficial. This can help family members reconnect and better understand what the veteran has experienced.
The Help for Our Heroes Treatment Program Makes a Difference
The Help For Our Heroes Program is a specialized treatment program offered at Transformations Treatment Center.
This unique, comprehensive program was designed to help veterans and first responders build the foundation they need to heal and begin their road to recovery.
Just some of the services offered in this program include:
- Clinically managed detox
- PTSD management
- Trauma management
- Anger management
- Grief and loss healing
- Relapse prevention
- Rebuilding family relationships
At Transformations Treatment Center, we will help you get your life back. Whether you or your loved one need support to overcome addiction and mental health challenges, we are here. Individualized treatment plans are created to ensure the highest rates of success.
Please contact us to discuss your needs. You can reach us at our Delray Beach location by calling (888) 919-2561, or our Morriston location at (888) 995-6013.
- Pew Research Center. The changing face of America’s veteran population. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/04/05/the-changing-face-of-americas-veteran-population/
- Pew Research Center. Little Public Support for Reductions in Federal Spending. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2019/04/11/little-public-support-for-reductions-in-federal-spending/
- Financial Concerns Especially Stressful for Military Families. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/voices/veterans/info-2019/survey-family-stress.html
- Inoue, C., et al. Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34283458/
- Laich, D. and Edstrom, E. Enough with America’s ‘thank you for your service’ culture. It’s betrayal, not patriotism. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/02/05/veterans-military-god-bless-troops-war-cost-column/4389727001/
- Hester, R. Lack of access to mental health services contributing to the high suicide rates among veterans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5563010/
- com. Here’s How to Actually Thank Veterans for Their Service. Retrieved from https://www.military.com/military-family-appreciation-month/understanding-sacrifices-for-freedom.html